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Fall is Apple Season! A Seasonal Snack Idea and Delicious Voc”Apple”ary Building TpT Lesson!

It’s fall and that means it’s apple season (and pear and grape season too!)  Looking for something to make with all those wonderful fall fruits??  Are your kids starving when they get home from a long day at school?  Need something to satiate their appetites before dinner? Apples (and other fruits) make a great after school snack.


Add a little peanut butter or a sprinkle of cinnamon to jazz it up and skip the empty calorie, high sugar, store-bought treats. Today’s (pinterest inspired) speech snack is one that your kids can create themselves, then piece by piece take apart and snack on.    If you work in a school that allows outside foods to be brought into the classroom and food allergies are not an issue, this activity would be the perfect way to talk about food vocabulary, direction following, sequencing and if you are working on a transportation unit, this would be a fun, multisensory way to tie in the theme!!   Today we are making fruit-mobiles!  (and since I threw in a cucumber…veggie-mobiles too!!)

 To make your “fruit (or veggie) mobile”:


















(Picture 1, 2, 3):  Slice an apple, pear or cucumber in half lengthwise.  This is a good time to talk about concepts like half, whole, length, width Then cut the fruit into sections that look similar to the ones shown above.



015 014

Picture 4. Place a toothpick through the center of a grape, but be careful not to push it all the way through to the other side.

Picture 5.  Push one end of the toothpick through the fruit slice and add a second grape onto the other end.

Picture 6. Repeat the grape/toothpick step for a second “set of wheels.”

Picture 7, 8, 9.  Complete this simple process with the other fruit and veggie slices to create your own fleet of fruit and veggie mobiles! Admire your creations, then proceed to eat!!  The perfect after school snack, party treat, classroom project or rainy day fun food activity!

To address language skills:

  • COMPARE the various mobiles and discuss how they are ALIKE and DIFFERENT (in size, color, shape, taste).

  •  SEQUENCE the steps in making the snack and DESCRIBE what you are doing as you complete each part.

  • Make up a story about the edible vehicles and  WHERE they are going….WHAT they will do when they get there…..HOW fast and HOW long it will take to reach their destination.

This treat is geared toward your younger students, but I haven’t forgotten about the big kiddos!  I have created a new product that you can find in my TpT store made primarily with middle and high school students in mind:  Voc “apple” ary Building for Older Students {Strategies for Improving Knowledge and Use of Tier 2 Vocabulary}.    

This item is apple-themed for the fall season and focuses on ways to develop a rich vocabulary through specific strategies.  I was inspired to create this item after revisiting a wonderful resource, the book ”Bringing Words to Life” by Isabelle L. Beck, Margaret G. McKeown, and Linda Kucan.  The book brings to light the importance of teaching vocabulary through strategies that reach far beyond the basic dictionary definition of a word.   I have utilized some of the basic concepts found in this book to my latest TpT product.    Check out the complete packet in my TpT store! 











This packet contains :

1–Six vocabulary strategy cards  (to use as a reference for this product or any new vocabulary that you may address) that provide specific ways to support tier-2 vocabulary development

apples preview


2–Eight  apple-themed reading passages containing key tier -2 words in bold and 24 vocabulary-building strategy cards.   I have placed the  codes S1,  S2, S3, S4., etc next to each item to represent “Strategy 1, Strategy 2, etc .   The SLP should read the passage aloud, (allowing the student to see the words highlighted in bold) or Tier-2 words can also be written on a white board so that students can make reference to them as they are asked to answer the strategy card questions.

***Sample responses /answers are included in BOLD for many of the strategy questions***

3– comprehension questions related to each story.

Also included—a fun and motivating game to play as students respond to questions.  All students get a tree, an apple basket and a set of 10 apples.  Start by placing all 10 apples of the same color on the tree.  Follow the directions on the game cards for adding apples to your basket, passing them off to another player or placing them all back onto the tree.  The player to fill their barrel with all 10 apples first is the winner!

I hope you find this product to be a helpful and effective way of addressing new vocabulary with all your students!

“It’s Hump Daaayyyy!” {Using Commercials to teach and reach your students in therapy}

Okay, so I admit, sometimes I have a student or two who is not thrilled about attending my speech/language sessions.  It’s fine though, I’m use to it—I teach the big kids–and sometimes these things happen!   I realize that my middle and high school students have other things on their minds, other places they would rather be or things they would rather be doing.  And that makes me even more motivated to find ways to make them interested and willing to participate in my sessions.  It is what helps make me a better SLP–and since I am pretty creative and good at ”thinking outside the box,” it is a fun challenge for me!



Today I was determined to get a smile out of one particular student who is less than enthused about speech class… I pulled up this 30 second commercial clip on you tube and we had an instant language lesson—and I think I accomplished my goal.  He actively participated, gave more than 2-word responses and smiled more than once.   I think “hump day” is my new favorite day of the week!

So take a look at this very funny and popular commercial clip and how we used it in therapy.  Whoever created this ad for Geico is just brilliant—thanks for helping make my therapy session a blast today!


I am addressing several therapy goals with the student who viewed this with me today:  1–Expanding and elaborating on thoughts (increasing length of verbalizations)  2–Improving comprehension skills/answering WH questions  3–Improving eye contact during conversational speech.

So here are the thought-provoking, conversation building questions I created to go with this ad.   Some of the questions I asked were more concrete and focused on the visual details within the commercial, others were inferential in nature.   Before watching the clip together, I asked my student to pay close attention to the details.   We watched it twice before I initiated conversation or asked questions.

1–Where do you think this commercial is taking place? (name three things you see that helped you know what the setting is)

2–How many people are in the office?  What are they doing? Do you remember their names?

3–What animal is used and why do you think this animal was chosen?

4–Describe the “personality” of the camel?

5–Do you think this was the first time the camel made an appearance in their office?  Do you think the workers are shocked to see the camel?

6–How do the people appear to react to the camel? Why?

7–Why is Wednesday called “Hump Day?”

8–What is this really a commercial for?

9–What two things is the commercial comparing?   Listen for the key word “than” in the comparison.

10–Do you think the commercial effectively got it’s point across?  Why?

So there you have it—-who knew an insurance commercial could be so effective in addressing language goals with a middle school student!  Check it out with your students (especially the tough ones that need a little motivation) and you too will be “Happier than a Camel on Wednesday!!”


“S…Peachy” Feedback Linky Party!

Speachy Feedback


Happy Fall to All!!  Today I am linking up with Nicole Allison’s “S….Peachy Feedback Linky Party!”  If you are an SLP blogger with a  TPT or TN store, you can link up too.  Here’s how it works—-Pick a buyer who left you some thoughtful, heartfelt, valuable feedback and “pay it forward.” In other words, offer them a product from your store as a “thank you.”

I thought I’d start off my week on a high note by sharing some wonderful feedback a TpT follower recently left for me:


linky pic


















If you are out there  reading this “sjanelles,” thank you, you made my day!!   Please contact me at for a free product from my store!!  And yes, I agree.  It is tough to find executive functioning activities, which is why I made this one!  If you’d like to check it out in my TpT store, you can find it here.    And I have a blog post to accompany this fun activity as well, here. 

Middle and high school kids deserve to get in on the fun, and many of the activities in my store are focused on this age group.    If you like these, stay tuned for a fall/apple themed product coming out soon that is designed for the older set and will help them “bring words to life!” (hint, hint)



LEGO® Blocks {Linky Party}: Ways to Use LEGOS® to build language skills with your “big kids!”






I have a 10 year old son (actually he just turned 11 a few days ago, but I’m in denial about that so I am saying he’s 10 for just a little longer!) so LEGOS® are abundant in our home!   I’ve saved every last one of them, after all, LEGOS® are pretty expensive and I know I will continue to  find uses for them, with my speech students, once my son outgrows them.  So when Kelly at Speech2U decided to do a LEGO®  themed linky party this month, I knew I had to jump in and share my ideas.   The majority of my caseload is currently comprised of middle and high school students.  But don’t think for a minute that these guys are too big to play with toys.  They love it–they are still kids after all!   So here are a few ways to incorporate LEGOS® into your therapy sessions with the older crowd:


1–LEGO® Movie Maker 

I love this totally FREE app–(available in the iTunes store)    It’s user-friendly and simple enough for upper elementary, middle or high school students to navigate on their own and create an amazing LEGO® story.  Here is a sample story that my own kiddo made a while back. (He was obsessed with this app for quite some time.)   Use LEGO® pieces or characters, add in a few extra props if you choose–as he did in this segment.

I use this app in my therapy sessions as a fantastic way to address so many language skills:

1–Organizing your thoughts to sequence a story with a clear beginning, middle and ending.

2–Using good sentence structure to explain what is happening with each LEGO® scene.

3–Using descriptive language while narrating the details of your story.  You can also insert short sentences within the app to describe what is happening in each scene.

If you have older artic or fluency students on your caseload, this would be a great activity to use with them as well, especially if they are in the carry-over phase of therapy.

Check out Joseph’s LEGO® video here as “Lego Dudes Fight Robo-Man” in a fight to the finish!!




2–LEGO® Barrier Games

This activity is the ultimate in direction following and direction giving!  It is definitely a game that would be appropriate for older students, but of course you could scale it down by using less LEGOS® depending on the age/ability level of the students.

Set up two piles of LEGOS® that have exactly the same amount, color and size of LEGOS® in each set.  If you have two square LEGO® grids, that would be the easiest way to play. The grid will keep the pieces from falling or slipping.













Each player gets a grid. A barrier should be placed between the players.












Player 1 first sets up the grid using the LEGO® blocks in any design or creation that they wish (they can do this in advance of playing or at the same time that the second player is adding their blocks to their grid), however they must be prepared to describe step-by-step to player 2 how they made their final product.  For example, “Start by placing a small square blue Lego® (with four holes) on the right side of a long skinny Lego® (with five holes).”  This game is quite challenging and requires very detailed descriptions from player 1, a lot of focus and good listening from player 2 and is a great example of the importance of good communication between a speaker and listener.  It’s also an effective way to ask good “WH” questions when directions are unclear, too lengthy or confusing.


In the end, take away the divider and see if player 1 and 2 have the same creation! Tricky, challenging and fun!!


3–LEGO® creations and explanations:

Working on vocabulary? comprehension? fluency?  Whatever the skill may be, use LEGOS® as a positive reinforcer for correct responses.  Place LEGOS® in a container and allow students to pull one, two or three blocks out.  You can decide how many blocks to award based on the level of difficulty of the responses.   You can also require students to put back pieces for incorrect answers.  At the end of the session, give students the last few minutes to use all their pieces to create something.  They can guess what the other students in their group have made or give clues about what they built and have the others take guesses.  The first one to guess the LEGO® creation is the winner.

Hope you can use some of these ideas the next time you are working with your older students…remember to use games and fun challenges in your therapy sessions with them, just as you do for your younger kiddos, to keep them motivated and on task! Find more LEGO® ideas from other SLP’s at the LEGO® linky party!

SpeechSnacks Blogiversary Celebration Guest Post and GIVEAWAY: DAY 6 {“Using Food to Learn About Five Senses” from Communication Station Speech Therapy}


Today is the final day of my blogiversary  celebration!   Thank you for following all the posts and participating in the giveaways! I  hope you have enjoyed all the amazing food-themed therapy ideas from my SLP blogger friends.  14 SLP’s took part in this week’s “food-for-all!!”  Not only are SLP’s a very bright and creative group of professionals, they are also very, very generous.  So before Maria, from Communication Station talks about using food to learn about your five senses, I just want to recognize and give one more shout out to the following SLP’s for partying with me this week—and don’t forget the GIVEAWAYS are all open and running until midnight on September 8th!!!  (see bottom of this post)


  • Home Sweet Speech Room
  • Smart Speech Therapy
  • Twin Sister’s Speech and Language
  • Speech Language Pirates
  • Speech 2U
  • Communication Station Speech Therapy


  • Carrie’s Speech Corner
  • Megan Moyer
  • Speech Time Fun
  • Busy Bee Speech
  • Teach Speech 365
  • Rock Chalk Speech Talk
  • Figuratively Speeching
  • Just Wright Speech



Who doesn’t love using food in speech therapy?  I know this girl does!!!

Note:  Please be sure to check for allergies before using any foods in therapy!!!!

Each year in the fall my little PK clients go back to school and the first month of school is all about learning about themselves, their bodies, their senses, and their families.  I like to use food the week they are learning about their 5 senses so I can introduce concepts they may not have heard of before. 

In therapy, we talk about what foods look like, how it feels in our hands and mouths, what the food sounds like when we are eating it, and of course the best part, what each food tastes like.  This is where I focus most of the therapy session(s).  I like to focus on introducing a variety of taste attributes such as:  sweet, sour/tart, juicy, salty, crunchy, mushy, soft, and any other attributes you can think of.  These are great vocabulary words that can be introduced at a young age but also can be used for our language delayed kiddos in early elementary school as well.

I like to begin with a little taste testing game!  Blind folds are a MUST for this as I want my kiddos to “taste” that attribute (not “see” it).  I use this activity for small groups (3-5 kiddos at a time) all sitting around a table blind folded with a small paper plate in front of them.  However this can be done as a whole class lesson or a classroom station activity as well.

I take turns presenting them with the SAME food on each trial (initially).  Keep in mind your younger kiddos will just want to guess what it is they are eating.  That’s fine, I answer their curiosity by labeling the object after they tasted it and move on the concept I want them to learn.  “Yes, that is a pretzel.  How does a pretzel taste?  Sweet or salty?  Crunchy or soft?”

The process:  1.) place blindfold, 2.) place food on plate, 3.) tell all students to take a taste, 4.) let students shout out what they are “tasting”(with blindfolds still in place), 5.) have students remove their blindfolds (I just have them pull up to forehead but keep on head…saves time) to see the food and talk about the attributes you want them to learn, 6.) replace blindfolds and start again with next food item.

Ok so what are my go to foods that I use?  Well I try to keep it fairly healthy with a little fun at the end.  I separate foods into three main categories but as you read through you can see how multiple taste attributes can be added to each food item. 

For my salty and/or crunchy/crispy concepts like to use foods such as mini/stick pretzels, baby carrots (or carrots cut up like chips…that’s a GREAT way to trick their little minds into thinking they are eating chips and it’s amazing when my kiddos say, “I don’t like carrots but I like these!”), and goldfish.  Animal crackers are great for a crunchy but sweet taste! 

For my sweet taste I will use various types of raw fruits (apple slices, bananas, pears in fruit cups, etc.) and dried fruits (trail mix is great for some crispy dried fruit…just be careful with the nuts and allergies).  I can add concepts such as crunchy/crispy, mushy, and even juicy for these various fruits.

For my sour/tart taste I like to use dill pickles (hamburger slices are the perfect size), pineapples, cranberry raisins, and yogurt (I was surprised when I first started to do this to find there are some younger kiddos that find different yogurt tastes to be less sweet and more tart…so I find that interesting and our taste buds are all different and there are no right/wrong answers here!).  Soft/mushy concept is great with bananas a previously stated as well as cheese sticks (NOT directly from the fridge) or a dollop of cream cheese.

 A few fun items: 
Fruit snacks are fun b/c you can buy sweet ones AND tart ones (the tropical ones are more tart) so that is a fun way to compare the tastes of a same textured food.  Also I like to add just a few fun candies at the end if I can…one skittle, a sweet tart, maybe a sour patch candy, and of course a Hershey kiss and the fun is complete!!!!

Remember, you can always revisit these taste attributes during various holidays as candy canes, and jelly beans are all made in different flavors. 
Graph it/Chart it:
The last piece of this activity is to add some pre or early math concepts of charting/graphing to the mix.  I will use butcher paper to create a huge graph and will graph out the number of students who label each food with various taste attributes.  Once our graph is complete we count them and visibly teach concepts such as “more than/less than/fewer/equal to/ greater than”, etc.

The above picture is a mock up of what my foods poster/graph looks like.  When I worked in the schools, I happened to do this activity before back to school night, so a poster like this was hanging on the wall, in the hallway in front of my speech room.  I had several parents come up to me and tell me how “neat” they thought that idea was to teach their children how foods taste.  It made me feel good and it was a nice way to visually show parents one way speech and language therapy can be very practical and functional.
Anyway, that is one of my very favorite ways to use food to introduce a number of vocabulary taste concepts while incorporating some math fun!
Happy Talking and Eating!!!

 Maria Del Duca, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist in southern, Arizona.  She owns a private practice, Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC, and has a speech and language blog under the same name.  Maria received her master’s degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.  She has been practicing as an ASHA certified member since 2003 and is an affiliate of Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues.  She has experience in various settings such as private practice, hospital and school environments and has practiced speech pathology in NJ, MD, KS and now AZ.  Maria has a passion for early childhood, autism spectrum disorders, rare syndromes, and childhood Apraxia of speech.  For more information, visit her blog or find her on Facebook.

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